The Private 150: Bigger But Leaner

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Articles - July/August 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014


12 12 Columbia Distributing Gregg Christiansen 2400 1100 1935 Malt beverage, wine and non-alcoholic distributor
13 13 Bi-Mart Corporation Marty W. Smith 3300 2700 1955 Discount shopping store
14 11 Western Family Foods Ron King 67 66 1963 Food label buying and marketing firm
15 14 M Financial Group Fred H. Jonske 200 200 1978 Financial services design and distributor
16 17 Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships Brad Tonkin, Ed Tonkin 859 850 1960 Auto dealer
17 16 R.B. Pamplin Corporation Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. 4600 1000 1957 Conglomerate
18 20 Carson Oil Lance C. Woodbury 245 243 1957 Fuel supplier
19 21 TEC Equipment David A. Thompson 760 196 1976 Full service truck dealership
20 38 S.D. Deacon Corporation Steve Deacon 320 83 1981 General contracting firm
21 22 Harder Mechanical Contractors Steve Harder 970 711 1934 Construction company
22 31 Consumer Cellular John Marick 789 573 1995 Provider of no contract cell phones
23 34 Andersen Construction David Andersen 402 250 1950 Construction company
24 29 R2C Group Michelle Cardinal and Tim O'Leary 195 123 1998 Advertising agency
25 28 Farwest Steel Corporation Pat Eagen 750 290 1956 Provider of steel products
TIE 26 33 Parr Lumber Company James Boyer, Steven P. Johnson 537 405 1930 Building and finish materials firm
TIE 26 26 A-dec Scott Parrish 1050 950 1964 Provider of dental equipment
TIE 26 25 Keen* Steve Meineke 225 160 2003 Outdoor footwear and apparel retailer
29 42 Swanson Group Steve Swanson 840 840 1951 Forest products firm
30 32 Tumac Lumber Company Brad McMurchie 100 80 1959 Wood products sourcing and marketing firm
31 24 Lanphere Enterprises Robert D. Lanphere 625 453 1966 Automotive and motorcycle dealership
32 27 WSCO Petroleum Corporation R.W. Dyke 440 350 1970 Retail and wholesale petroleum and real estate investment company
33 44 Shelter Products Joe Beechler 100 60 1948 Distributor of lumber, plywood and building materials to contractors


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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda



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